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Is CA adequately financing its mandated special education efforts?

Can you still hear the applause?

Ironically, it links to an utterance from California’s top elected official spotlighting deficient state performance in one critically important area.

That is education spending, which Gov. Gavin Newsom prominently addressed last month is his State of the State address.

What Newsom openly admitted was that, despite improved funding efforts in recent years, state taxpayers need to step up even further to ensure that California’s educational system – including, importantly, its special education programs – is viable and robust in the future.

Because, arguably, it isn’t right now.

In fact, Newsom told a statewide audience that California’s educational budget is flatly “not enough” to fulfill its mission. “We’re still 41st in the nation, in per-pupil spending,” he said.

That admission was welcomed – not lamented – by many education advocates and commentators as a necessary step toward an increased focus and improvement. Underscoring the educational funding gap and the vital need to fix it was “really significant,” noted one school lobbyist.

Concededly, California’s current spending can sound initially impressive. Reportedly, educational outlays will be more than $80 billion next year, a figure that spells an uptick of more than 40% from a mere seven years ago. In discussing specifics, Newsom especially stresses the $576 million he says will be applied to special education programs next year.

More tinkering on the numbers is yet required en route to a confirmed budget. Legislators intend to work on that this spring.

It is imperative that they do so from the perspective of families across California who justifiably rely upon the state’s special education programs to deliver quality and meaningfully tailored offerings. Special education is not a privilege for those who need it; it is a legal right long conferred through strong federal and state laws.

Questions or concerns regarding any aspect of special education can be directed to an attorney who practices exclusively and with passion in this important legal sphere.

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